Gita 3.21

yad yad acarati sresthas

tat tad evetaro janah

sa yat pramanam kurute

lokas tad anuvartate


Whatever action is performed by a great man, common men follow in his footsteps. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.


Whatever actions a great personality performs is accepted by the common people as the path to follow as they look up to these people in positions of leadership, royalty and fame etc. for inspiration. So whatever a prominent member of society postulates, whether it is Vedic or concocted, the ignorant will undoubtedly follow. It is also a fact that in modem times people do not have much inclination towards spiritualism, in spite of a lot of preaching mainly due to the fact that preachers themselves, do not practise, what they preach.

Common people who attach importance to wealth and position, follow the examples set by millionaires and leaders, regarding them as great, though they may not be really so. The rich people and leaders, resort to evil practices such as falsehood, forgery, dishonesty, thefts and corruption, to gain riches, fame and status in society. The common people, who consider them great, follow those evil practices. Thus, evils become rampant in the society. Great and noble men, such as teachers, preachers, priests, leaders and rulers etc., who hold positions of honour in society, should perform their duties very carefully, so that they may leave a good impression upon the common people, who may follow the standards.

Gita 3.22

na me parthasti kartavyam

trisu lokesu kincana

nanavaptam avaptavyam

varta eva ca karmani


There is nothing in the three worlds, O Arjuna, that is for me to do, nor is there anything unattained, that should be achieved; yet I engage Myself, in action.


As the compartments of a train attached to an engine, follow the engine, similarly the Lord and the saints (who have nothing to do and nothing more to attain), perform their duty and other people follow them. Common people have a desire to act and to attain, something or the other. They can get rid of this desire by performing their duty, without expecting any reward. If the Lord and the saints did not perform their duty, the people would also follow their path, and they would become indolent and heedless and would perform forbidden actions. So they would not get rid of desires. Therefore, duty is automatically performed by the Lord and the saints, for the welfare of the whole humanity.

If wanted Lord Krishna could have taken the entire universe by himself, yet he worked very hard, even as the charioteer to support the righteous people, setting an example for others to follow. A CEO of a company has reached the highest position that can be attained, yet he has to work hard to set example for others to follow.

Gita 3.23

yadi hy aham na varteyam

jatu karmany atandritah

mama vartmanuvartante

manusyah partha sarvasah



For, if I did not engage in work, O Partha, certainly all men would follow My path.


Leader’s lives have to be an example for others to emulate. By saying that if He does not act the world will follow suit, Krishna means that the mortals will not be guided towards the right path and will destroy themselves pursuing the sensual pleasure with no restraint. No one will be interested in doing anything but expect results without working for it. When Lord Krishna took birth, seemingly as a human being, as the son of the great righteous King Vasudeva, he conducted Himself in all ways and manners as appropriate for his position in society as a prince of the royal Kshatriya or warrior class. If Lord Krishna acted otherwise all mankind would begin to imitate Him thinking that such actions were virtuous.

Common man set their standards by following celebrities, so are employees of an organization by observing their managers.

Gita 3.24

utsideyur ime loka

na kuryam karma ced aham

sankarasya ca karta syam

upahanyam imah prajah


If I should cease to work, then all these worlds would be put to ruination. I would also be the cause of creating unwanted population, and I would thereby destroy the peace of all sentient beings.


The Lord answers Arjuna’s question, “Why do You urge me to engage in this terrible action?” by citing His own example that He engages Himself in action even though He has nothing to attain in the three worlds. Therefore, Lord urges Arjuna to be engaged in action. The whole universe work through certain principle and rhythm and one can never observe chaos or lawlessness in the cosmos.

Gita 3.25

saktah karmany avidvamso

yatha kurvanti bharata

kuryad vidvams tathasaktas

cikirsur loka-sangraham


As the ignorant perform their duties with attachment to results, similarly the learned may also act, but without attachment, for the sake of leading people on the right path.


All actions of wise men are naturally performed for the welfare of the world. They have also no egoistic notion, that they are engaged in the welfare of others. As a licentious person is attached to sensual pleasures, the greedy to riches and an infatuated one to the family, the wise are engrossed, in the welfare of all beings, naturally and without any egoistic feeling. Because of the total renunciation of affinity, for the materialistic world, their so-called bodies, senses, minds and intellects etc., are inclusive of the term ‘loka’ (world) used in the expression, ‘lokasangraha’ (welfare of the world). An ignorant person performs action to reap its fruit, a wise man is neither attached to the fruit of action, nor has any duty to perform. So, it is possible for him to be indifferent to action. Therefore, the Lord directs him to act, without attachment.



Gita 3.16

evam pravartitam cakram

nanuvartayatiha yah

aghayur indriyaramo

mogham partha sa jivati


My dear Arjuna, a man who does not follow this prescribed Vedic system of sacrifice certainly leads a life of sin, for a person delighting only in the senses lives in vain.


Lord Krishna addresses Arjuna as ‘Partha’ to remind him that he is the son of Pritha (Kunti) who performed her duty even by suffering troubles throughout her life. So he should also perform his duty. As a broken fragment of the wheel of a chariot, gives a series of jerks to the charioteer, as well as to the driver, similarly a man who does not follow the wheel of creation, creates an obstacle in the smooth running of that wheel. When a man performs his duty by renouncing desire, feeling of ‘mine’, attachment and egoism etc., he gratifies the entire creation. The person who hankers after selfishness, pride, pleasures and prosperity, causes suffering to others and thus he is of a sinful nature.

Success of any organization or society is solely depended on its members. If it has members who are intelligent, hardworking, dedicated and working with a sense of sacrifice, such organization will grow and prosper .The man who does not perform his prescribed duties is a thief and a burden to the society.

Gita 3.17

yas tv atma-ratir eva syad

atma-trptas ca manavah

atmany eva ca santustas

tasya karyam na vidyate


But, for a person who takes delight only in the self, is satisfied with the self and content in the self alone, verily there is no further work to be done by him.


Lord Krishna now explains in this verse that actions are not necessary for one who is spiritually developed in atma-tattva or knowledge of the eternal soul. This is because such a person has actually realised their eternality and are enraptured solely by their soul experiencing unlimited bliss in every moment completely free from all external desires for pleasure and enjoyment; such a one on this platform has no more duties to perform. This is the meaning to be understood.

So long as a person assumes his affinity for the world, he rejoices in the sensual pleasures, wife, sons and family, remains satisfied with food and is content in riches. But they cannot provide him with perfect and lasting rejoicing, satisfaction and contentment, because the world is ever-changing, insentient and perishable while the self is uniform, sentient and imperishable. So how can the self be satisfied and be contented with the world, when there is not even the least affinity between the two? The aim of the performance of actions for a man is to attain salvation or God-realization. When this aim is achieved by anyone following the Disciplines of Actions, Knowledge or Devotion, nothing remains to be done, known and acquired by him and that is the supreme achievement of a human life. An action is performed, when there is desire to acquire something, and desire is born of want. The enlightened souls have no want, so they have to do nothing.


naiva tasya krtenartho

nakrteneha kascana

na casya sarva-bhutesu

kascid artha-vyapasrayah


A self-realized man has no purpose to fulfil in the discharge of his prescribed duties, nor has he any reason not to perform such work. Nor has he any need to depend on any other living being.


Actions are performed in two ways-either in order to satisfy desire or to get rid of desire. Common men work in order to satisfy their desires, while a Karma yogi performs actions, in order to get rid of desires. Therefore, an enlightened soul being free from desire has not the least affinity for the performance of duty. Actions are performed by him, automatically without any selfish motive, for the welfare of the entire creation. Such a God-realized soul realizes that all the worldly objects, body, senses, mind and intellect etc., are not his own, but these belong to the world. So, these should be utilized for the world. This is, because no action can be performed without the help of the world. Apart from this, matter required for action, is also an offshoot of the world. It is in no way related to one’s own self. Therefore, nothing is ours. The cosmos can never be meant for an individual. As limbs of a body are ever engaged in doing good for the body, the body (a fragment of the world) of that enlightened soul, ever remains engaged in doing good to the world.

Gita 3.19

tasmad asaktah satatam

karyam karma samacara

asakto hy acaran karma

param apnoti purusah


Therefore, without being attached to the fruits of activities, one should act as a matter of duty; for by working without attachment, one attains the Supreme.


A person who is interested in attaining atma-tattva or soul realisation must perform activities without desire unattached to the results. The reason being that one without desires has their mind focused on the Supreme Lord and such direction leads to spiritual knowledge. So Lord Krishna is emphasising this point that while performing prescribed Vedic actions in this way without attachment, with the consciousness directed towards the Supreme Lord, naturally purity of mind develops and then spiritual knowledge after which the highest moksha or liberation from the material existence is attained

It is attachment, not action, which leads to one’s downfall. Being attached to the body, senses, mind, intellect and other mundane objects etc., a man performs actions, in order to derive pleasure out of them. This attachment for the materialistic objects etc., leads him to the cycle of birth and death. By performing actions for the welfare of others, we get out of the old debt and we cease to run into new debt, as we perform actions in a disinterested way. Thus, we are liberated from bondage. Duty is that, which must be done for the welfare of others, according to the ordinance of the scriptures and according to one’s capacity, by renouncing one’s selfish motive. The term ‘samacara’ means, that the duty must be performed very carefully, enthusiastically, promptly and duly, so that the aim may be attained. If there is the least dereliction of duty, it creates a great hurdle in the path, of a Karma yogi.

Gita 3.20

karmanaiva hi samsiddhim

asthita janakadayah

loka-sangraham evapi

sampasyan kartum arhasi


Even kings like Janaka and others attained perfection by performance of prescribed duties. Therefore, just for the sake of educating the people in general, you should perform your work.


King Janaka and other great men renowned for their wisdom performed countless prescribed Vedic activities according to their status in society yet reached perfection in atma-tattva and attained moksha in their lives. Even after attaining moksha they performed Vedic activities for the benefit and welfare of the world and to inspire others also to perform prescribed Vedic actions for the balance and maintenance of the world. For one who is not a person of wisdom such activities performed leads to purification and for one who is a person of wisdom such activities lead to the bliss of pleasing the Supreme Lord and the fulfilment of the bliss of moksha.

Here Lord Krishna follows the approved adage of citing previous historical examples such as King Janaka the father of Sita who was Rama’s wife. King Janaka by performing prescribed Vedic activities purified his mind and consciousness and achieved perfection; but even after attaining atma-tattva or soul realisation King Janaka continued to perform prescribed Vedic activities for the purification of the world and felt bliss. Also people seeing such a great king as Janaka performing sacred actions also became inspired to follow his example. To the contrary those wallowing in material nature in the mode of ignorance fail to perform Vedic actions are ruined in this life and the next.







Gita 3.11

devan bhavayatanena

te deva bhavayantu vah

parasparam bhavayantah

sreyah param avapsyatha


By this (Yajna) please the devas who will in turn please you! Thus supporting each other you will attain the highest good.


By yajna or worship and appeasement one pleases the Devas or demi- gods, who in turn please you with prosperity and abundance. Thus mutually gratifying each other both humans and the devas will be happy and attained the highest good.

Trees and plants etc. naturally bear flowers and fruits, but their growth is luxuriant if these are tended properly. Similarly, a man should perform his duty by nurturing and fostering the gods by offering worship and service to them. By doing so, he is sustained by the gods with timely rain etc. But when he does not perform his duty properly, the gods do not properly protect and so he has to face calamities, such as a deluge and drought etc. It is an accepted fact that the body, senses, mind, intellect and possessions are neither ours nor for us. If we sincerely perform our respective duties, we will add immensely, to the welfare of the world.

Generally the Devas are the presiding deities of a particular function, such as Kubera for wealth, Varuna for Waters, Vayu for air, Agni for fire, etc. We have to do Yajna to please these Gods who in turn take good care of us in all aspects. Similarly in organizations we have Heads of Departments and CEO and one must serve their departments selflessly and with devotion and you will be taken care with promotions and prosperity.

Duties and responsibilities of the Hindu life have been classified into five great Yajna or the Pancha Mahayajnas.  It is imperative on the part of every householder to perform the following five sacrifices

Rishi-yajna – honouring Rishis by the study of Holy Scriptures.

Deva-yajna – worship of the celestials (devas) by pouring oblations into the sacred fire. This is done during the twilight prayers (sandhya), aupasana, and agnihotra yajna.

Pitri-yajna – offering libations to ancestors or pitrs.

Manushya-yajna – charitable offerings of food to fellow humans.

Bhuta-yajna — feeding animals, especially cows and birds.

Gita 3.12

istan bhogan hi vo deva

dasyante yajna-bhavitah

tair dattan apradayaibhyo

yo bhunkte stena eva sah


Fostered by the sacrifice (yajna), the gods, will bestow upon you all the requisite necessary for performing your duty. He who relishes these, without using these in the service of others, is verily a thief.


One should know, however, that all the necessities of life that the human society requires are supplied by the demigod. No one can manufacture anything. Take, for example, all the eatables of human society such as grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, sugar, etc., none of which can be manufactured by men. Then again, take for example heat, light, water, air, etc., which are also necessities of life – none of them can be manufactured by the human society. Without the Supreme Lord, there can be no profuse sunlight, moonlight, rainfall, breeze, etc., without which no one can live. Obviously, our life is dependent on supplies from the Lord. Even for our manufacturing enterprises, we require so many raw materials like metal, sulphur, mercury, manganese, and so many essentials-all of which are supplied by the Devas, with the purpose that we should make proper use of them to keep ourselves fit and healthy for the purpose of self-realization, leading to the ultimate goal of life, namely, liberation from the material struggle for existence. This aim of life is attained by performance of yajna. If we forget the purpose of human life and simply take supplies from the agents of the Lord for sense gratification and become more and more entangled in material existence, which is not the purpose of creation, certainly we become thieves, and therefore we are punished by the laws of material nature. A society of thieves can never be happy because they have no aim in life. The gross materialist thieves have no ultimate goal of life.

We owe this body to our parents, and it is they, who have fostered it. For our knowledge, we are grateful to our preceptors and sages. Thus, whatever material, strength, ability, rank, authority, wealth and property we possess, we owe it all, to others. So whatever we possess should be devoted to the service of others. The person who without repaying the rightful due of others and enjoys the objects himself, is a thief. Thus a thief is, he who performs actions with a selfish motive in order to gain honour and praise etc. Such a person can never gain purity and peace of mind. A selfish man is not liked or praised by anyone. In a family, objects get concealed from a passionate and pleasure-seeking person. On the other hand, if a person serves others with all his resources, he attains salvation and is also praised, honoured, comforted and supplied things, even though he is unwilling to receive them.

Gita 3.13

yajna-sistasinah santo

mucyante sarva-kilbisaih

bhunjate te tv agham papa

ye pacanty atma-karanat


The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.


Those who accept food after first offering it to the Supreme Lord are freed from the sins acquired from the five areas in the home causing harm to any living entity. They are: the mortar and pestle where sometimes extremely small bugs are accidentally killed, the grindstone where microscopic amoebas inside of the seeds are ground to death, the fireplace where sometimes crawling things come into when the fire is out only to be burned to death when the fire is lit, the water pot where sometimes insects fly into and drown and the broom which while sweeping dirt and dust from the house might also sweep ants and such in such a way as to cause their demise. These are the five areas of harm in the home causing accidental death to harmless creatures as confirmed in the Manu Samhita. Those sinful wretches who do not first offer what they eat to the Supreme Lord are not freed from any of these sins but they are punished for them and verily day by day they eat only sin. On account of these sins multiplying daily they have no opportunity to attain heaven.

The body, ability, rank (position), authority, knowledge and power etc., which a man possesses, have been obtained and will be lost. Therefore they are not ours and are not for us, but they are for rendering service to others. Our Indian culture is summed up in this principle. As all the organs of the body are for the welfare of the body, so all the people of the world are for the welfare of the world. A man may be of any country, guise, Varna (social order), ashram (stage of life) etc., may easily attain salvation by rendering service to others through his actions.

We get everything from nature and society and therefore we are duty bound to return part of our earnings to them. Those who do not are called thieves. Similarly one must not sell food or even put poison in food even to kill rats or other insects.

Gita 3.14

annad bhavanti bhutani

parjanyad anna-sambhavah

yajnad bhavati parjanyo

yajnah karma-samudbhavah


All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.


The human being eats different kinds of food grains, vegetables, fruits, etc., and the animals eat the refuse of the food grains and vegetables, grass, plants, etc. Human beings who are accustomed to eating meat and flesh must also depend on the production of vegetation in order to eat the animals. Therefore, ultimately, we have to depend on the production in the field and not on the production of big factories. The field production is due to sufficient rain from the sky, and such rains are controlled by demigods like Indra, sun, moon, etc., and they are all servants of the Lord. The Lord can be satisfied by sacrifices; therefore, one who cannot perform them will find himself in scarcity -that is the law of nature. Yajna, specifically prescribed for this age, must therefore be performed to save us at least from scarcity of food supply.

Gita 3.15

karma brahmodbhavam viddhi


tasmat sarva-gatam brahma

nityam yajne pratisthitam


Regulated activities are prescribed in the Vedas, and the Vedas are directly manifested from the Supreme God. Consequently the all-pervading Transcendence is eternally situated in acts of sacrifice.


It should be known that actions have its origins in the Brahman meaning the Vedas. Although nature is seen as a force of action actually it is supported fully by the underlying energy of the Supreme Brahman. Actions though appearing to have a force of their own are only manifested through the instrument of matter in humans in the physical body. The Vedas as described earlier have been emanated from the imperishable Supreme Brahman, Lord Krishna. The words sarva-gatam means all-pervading or indestructible. This is indicative of the Supreme Brahman as well as the soul within every living entity. The soul is known to be indestructible and all pervading. The word ‘udbhavan’ meaning ‘originates from’ is used to illustrate that this fitness comes from the source from which one manifests from. Even nature is only able to operate from the substratum through the utilisation of sun, rain, wind, fire etc. and by no other means. Therefore the all-pervading and indestructible Atma or soul utilises a physical body which is its substratum.